Skip to comments.Amendment to Balance the Federal Budget May Die in GOP House Committee
Posted on 12/10/2015 7:09:24 AM PST by MichCapCon
Barring the unforeseen, the state House will not vote this year on legislation to place Michigan in an interstate compact petitioning for a federal balanced budget amendment. The measure appears to lack sufficient votes in the House Financial Liability Reform Committee, making it unlikely that the bill will reach the House floor before the New Year.
Senate Bill 306 was passed by the Senate with a 26-11 vote on Sept. 17. The legislation would authorize Michiganâs membership in a Compact for a Balanced Budget. According to MichiganVotes.org, the bill would âuse the device of a multistate compact to submit an application to Congress calling for an Article V convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Under the compact, the convention would be limited to proposing an amendment prohibiting Congress from increasing the national debtâ unless a majority of state legislatures approved the additional debt.
"Considering the nearly incalculable debt thatâs mounting in Washington, D.C., this legislation is about nothing less than our national fiscal security,â said Leon Drolet, the state policy director of the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission. âThe fate of Senate Bill 306 will determine whether the state of Michigan is going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Voters across the board are increasingly feeling a sense of urgency and displaying a growing intolerance toward lawmakers who are unwilling to take action on this issue.â
With six Republicans and three Democrats on the committee, five of the Republicans would need to support Senate Bill 306 for it to be sent to the full House for consideration. Two of the committee's Republicans, Rep. Eric Leutheuser of Hillsdale and Rep. Earl Poleski of Jackson, are currently not willing to vote yes.
Leutheuser said he needs more time to study the ramifications of the bill.
âMore time is needed to look at this very complicated issue before Iâd be willing to vote âyes.ââ Leutheuser said. âI just donât believe this is something that should be done within the bubble of having only 10 days left on this yearâs legislative calendar.â
Meanwhile, Poleski said he has pretty much made up his mind and opposes the bill.
âMy concerns involve a couple of things,â Poleski said. âWe just passed another Article V [balanced budget] resolution that was something like this last session and to turn around and pass another one seems to me would be a bit redundant. I am also concerned about the very specific language concerning the compact process. I believe thereâs always a level of uncertainty involved with any political process and â to me â this resolution is unduly inflexible.â
The Legislature approved a similar measure calling for a convention of the states on a balanced budget amendment last session (only to see it vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder). The compact idea embodied by Senate Bill 306 is designed to expedite the process and define more explicitly what the states are seeking. The compact would only take effect after 38 states have signed on. Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi and North Dakota have already done so and other states appear poised to join them.
According to Rep. Pat Somerville, a Republican from New Boston who chairs the House Financial Liability Reform Committee, there has never been much momentum among committee members for advancing the bill by year's end.
âThere wasnât sufficient support for this in the committee,â Somerville said. âBut beyond that, Iâd say that the overall temperature so far just hasnât been right. There was no sense that this was a major priority at this time, especially after having already passed the other Article V resolution last year.â
Senate Bill 306 may be stalled, but that doesnât mean itâs dead. The committee could take it up again in 2016, and with Republican primary elections approaching, the incentives to do so may seem stronger.
âCommittee Chair Somerville should be commended for the support he has given Senate Bill 306 and the hearings that have been held on the legislation,â Drolet said. âWe understand that there some committee members who still have questions they feel need to be discussed. Weâre looking forward to continuing to work with the committee and answer their questions.â
Bills can be taken up by the full House without committee action by means of a discharge motion. This contingency is usually restricted to only certain circumstances and situations, however. Generally, legislation that a committee fails to adopt eventually dies in the committee.
There is a nuanced debate about how to work for a federal balanced budget. Nick Dranias, president of the Compact for America, makes the case for "Why Michigan Should Compact for a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment."
Our budget won’t be balanced while we buy 400 billion dollars more from China than China buys from America, in a new all-time record large trade deficit.
Sure this is a good idea, but Donald Trump is right.
We need to make things once again. It is part of the same problem.
I always thought such amendments were stupid. Balancing the budget just means you have enough coming in to match what you are planning to spend. But you can do that by budgeting raising debt levels.
Besides, Budget is just a plan. Doesn’t stop you from authorizing more funds than were budgeted.
What’s needed is fiscal discipline of the members to create a good plan and then to stick to it’s execution. No budget amendment is going to magically fix a congress that doesn’t have fiscal discipline.
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